Often injuries can ruin a career.
In the case of Corey Courtney, it built his career. He took a hip injury and turned it into gold.
People always say do what you love, and that’s exactly what Courtney has done.
Twenty-three years at any job is impressive but how about 23 years of having multiple jobs for one organization and another five years with the same league for a total of 28 years in the USHL. Luckily, the Lincoln Stars have one of those masterminds in their organization.
Courtney is the athletic trainer and equipment manager for the team.
Courtney’s passion for hockey all started in Dubuque, Iowa. He said he found love for the game at a young age. He started playing hockey at the mites level and never looked back. Courtney played hockey in part because of hip problems he experienced at a young age.
The game of hockey took Courtney all around the globe. His passport has stamps from Russia, Germany and the Czech Republic.
Courtney’s on-ice hockey career came to an end because of his hip misalignment just after two years of college hockey. But that was just the start of his athletic training career.
When Courtney graduated from St. Mary’s (Minn.), his phone rang. On the other line was Mikey Kramer, the athletic trainer for his hometown team, the Dubuque Saints. Kramer told Courtney that he just got a job in the NHL working for Colorado. Kramer told Courtney that if he passed the NTTA Exam, the certification test for athletic trainers, he could have the job as an athletic trainer for the Saints.
In August 1995, Courtney became the athletic trainer for Dubuque. But if you know Courtney, one job is not his forte. Courtney also worked for the minor league baseball team.
When the Lincoln Stars came calling, Courtney had four other job offers on the table.
“I remember playing the Lincoln Stars and being jealous of the atmosphere at the Ice Box,” he said.
When it came down to the decision, it was an easy one. Courtney packed his belongings and moved to Lincoln.
Courtney is now going on his 23rd season with the Lincoln Stars. However, it is his first three years that stick with him the most.
The euphoria of having a new job helped, but the success and the togetherness of the teams are what made him remember them the most.
In his first year, the Lincoln Stars won the Clark Cup (division championship) and the Anderson Cup (USHL championship).
Courtney’s not living in the past, though.
“There hasn’t been a year I disliked,” he said. “Whether it’s the coaches you become great friends with or you developed great relationships with, there’s really something special about every year regardless of the record.”
Only half of Courtney’s job is athletic training. The other half is managing all the players’ equipment. Whether it’s ordering new equipment, stitching jerseys or sharpening skates, Courtney’s days are pretty filled and that is not including game days.
On those days, Courtney is the first one in and the last one out. His duties usually start with cleaning the locker room. One thing that Courtney takes a lot of pride in is the ways the jerseys are hung.
“I’m really kind of fickle on how I hang the jerseys,” Courtney said. “They all got to be perfectly straight in all one way.”
Courtney’s diligent work doesn’t go unnoticed.
“On every team, the trainer is usually that hardest-working member,” Stars forward Doug Grimes said. “But Courtney definitely works harder than any trainer I’ve ever seen.”
It’s not just the hard work that makes Courtney valuable, it’s how he handles himself that makes him a prized possession for the Stars.
“He’s very professional with what he does,” Grimes said. “He’s always willing to go the extra mile to get our bodies right.”
Hockey, being one of the most physical sports on the planet, brings a lot of injuries to the players. But for those Stars players who experience an injury, they are always thankful Courtney is on their side.
“I’ve been recently hurt (with a knee injury) and he’s a vital part of my recovery,” Griffen Jurecki, a Stars forward, said. “He guides me in rehab and helps me manage my injury. He’s always easy to talk to. Obviously being hurt is stressful and plays a toll on my mental health but Corey keeps the mood good and makes it a lot easier for me.
“I wouldn’t want any other trainer working on me.”
Courtney’s hard work is seen throughout the USHL. He has been nominated as USHL trainer/equipment manager for eight All-Star games, three USA Top Prospect tournaments, twice nominated as a trainer for the Team USA Viking Cup team, two USA select teams and has served as the trainer for the World Junior Team.
Courtney can balance a full plate and his resume shows it.